The Wordless Book
The Wordless Book, first designed with only three pages – black, red, and white – was introduced by Charles Spurgeon in 1866. Preaching at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, his sermon was entitled “The Wordless Book.” [Click here to read the text of that sermon. ] Mr. Spurgeon told of an old unnamed minister who had put three pages together and often looked at them to remind himself of his sinfulness, of Christ’s blood poured out for him, and of the “whiter-than-snow” cleansing provided for him.
It is not known when the gold page was added, but it brought another dimension to the book, depicting the love of God and the glories of His heavenly home. Nine years later, D. L. Moody used the book of colors at a children’s service where an estimated 12,000 were present to hear his message on “a book with four leaves-black, red, white and gold.”
“Tell us a story, Fanny. Tell us another!” the children begged. Fanny Crosby, the famous hymnwriter, would often take from her purse a little Wordless Book and tell the children, whom she dearly loved, the story of the Savior.
In 1895 the book was taken to India with Amy Carmichael. Amy and her helper made a satin flag of gold, black, red, and white, hoisted it in the cart pulled by oxen and went from village to village in southern India sharing the gospel. “A most useful text for an impromptu sermon,” Amy commented. In smaller groups she used the little book itself.
Ruth Overholtzer, wife of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s founder, J. Irvin Overholtzer, discovered the book in 1924. She found it through a bookstore operated by Dr. Harry A. Ironside who became pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. The Wordless Book was being published in London at that time.
When CEF began to print the little book fifteen years later they added the final color, green, to represent Christian growth. They also published a leaflet telling how to use the book and giving Scripture verses for each page.
A Continuing Heritage to Future Generations…
In the ensuing years the Wordless Book has been taken to over 120 countries around the world by missionaries, leading multitudes of boys and girls to Christ. Through the universal language of color, God has used this effective means to communicate His wonderful message of salvation, perhaps more than any other tool in history. You, too, can become part of this rich heritage of those who have been faithful to evangelize children.
On the following pages are instructions on how to use the Wordless Book. For further help, a sample dialogue has also been included that will show you how to enhance these truths on a child’s level.
Begin your conversation by introducing yourself, if necessary, and finding out the child’s name so you may call him by name throughout your presentation. Allow the children to interact with you as you share step by step, color by color. Be sure to share with much prayer and enthusiasm, remembering it is the way of salvation for your listener!
The Wordless Book has also been taught to Christian boys and girls who desire to share their faith with others. Many children have been led to Christ by other children using this simple tool. Provide clear instruction and opportunity for practice as you pass on this rich heritage to a new generation.
[Adapted from From Then Till Now by Ruth Overholtzer. Copyright 1990, Child Evangelism Fellowship® Press. Used by permission.]